New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

“The Dead Sea is Dying” – A “Disaggregate” Language-Sensitive Teaching Sequence on Salts and the Dissolving Process

Robert Gieske, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)

Claus Bolte, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)

Sabine Streller, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)


The pursuit of Scientific Literacy as a response to educational inequality has become increasingly complex, especially in countries which have experienced growing diversification in recent years. Inclusive STEM education should therefore pay specific attention to students’ diverse backgrounds, for instance regarding their language resources. Recent large-scale assessment like the PISA survey (OECD, 2019, 181–183) identified students whose language levels are not advanced enough to meet the objectives in school curricula. Language-sensitive teaching serves as the most popular umbrella term for various approaches to facilitate concept formation in connection with language acquisition. However, there is still a massive lack of initiative from individual subject areas to implement innovative methodologies of (scientific) language instruction. The Disaggregate Instruction approach proposed by Brown et al. (2010) addresses this issue by offering learners new ways to access scientific discourses. This approach allows students to focus first on concept formation through familiar language, and only then introduces scientific terminology. Learners with developable (subject-related) verbal competences benefit from a separation of content and language learning (Brown et al., 2010, 1479–1480). Picking up the promising findings from previous studies, we conducted a treatment-control study with a pre-post-test design to gather data on how 8th grade chemistry learners capitalize on an adapted Disaggregate Instruction approach regarding the acquisition of scientific knowledge and terminology (Gieske et al., in press). Prior to taking part in a teaching sequence of 8 lessons on the chemical structure and dissolving of salts, the students complete c-tests on general and chemistry-specific language competences as well as a subject-matter-knowledge multiple-choice test. After the teaching sequence the students take the subject-matter-knowledge test again and write two texts about the process of dissolving salt in water addressing a chemistry teacher and a peer who missed the teaching sequence. By drawing from research regarding audience design in writing we developed a methodology to analyze the quality of student writing from a chemistry education perspective. In our presentation we will introduce the intervention we developed, report our findings and suggest first conclusions on the effectiveness of the Disaggregate Instruction approach.



colloquial language, scientific language, language-sensitive chemistry teachingDisaggregate Instruction, dissolving of salts



[1]   Brown, B. A., Ryoo, K., & Rodriguez, J. (2010). Pathway Towards Fluency: Using ‘disaggregate instruction’ to promote science literacy. International Journal of Science Education32(11), 1465–1493. 

[2]   OECD. (2019). PISA 2018 Results (Volume II): Where All Students Can Succeed. OECD.

[3]   Gieske, R., Streller, S. & Bolte, C. (in press). How Separating Everyday and Scientific Language in Chemistry Teaching Enhances Learners‘ Communica­tive Competences. In: G. S. Carvalho (Ed.), Fostering Scientific Citizenship in an Uncertain World. European Science Education Research Association, Virtual Conference 2021. University of Minho, Braga.


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